Butternut squash is a hard winter squash that grows on a vine. It is sometimes referred to as the butternut pumpkin or gramma in Australia and New Zealand. It has a sweet nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin and it becomes increasingly sweeter and richer as it ages.. Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium and Vits A,C and E.
Chickpeas sauted and seasoned with lime juice, salt and pepper added a different dimension to this rather plain Butternut Squash soup. I tried coconut oil instead of the usual EVOO I use in most of my western/italian/mediterranean dishes. Coconut Oil is so under rated, don't you think? Not many of us know that coconut oil is made up of nearly 50% lauric acid which is known to help speed up metabolism, to burn belly fat and improve cellular function. I met the husband of my friend Sherin last night who advised me to take a tbsp of coconut oil twice a day on an empty stomach to help with any inflammation in your digestive system. Key is to look for virgin coconut oil so as to ensure it is not adulterated.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
3 tbsp coconut oil (2 tbsp for the squash soup and 1 tbsp for the chickpeas)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 qt vegetable broth
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 can chickpeas
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt & pepper
1) Heat a saucepan and warm up 2 tbsp coconut oil. Fry the diced yellow onions and minced garlic.
2) Add in all the spice powders and salt and saute further.
3) This will be followed by the butternut squash and veg stock. Cover and let it cook for 5-10 mins.
4) In the meantime, saute the chickpeas in another tbsp of coconut oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This will give a peppery tangy taste to the chickpeas. After 2-3 mins on medium heat, set aside.
5) After 10 mins, the squash would have softened.
6) Blend this mix and pour it back into the pot. Check and adjust for seasoning.
7) When serving, scoop out the butternut squash soup in to a soup bowl and place chickpeas in the center. Add a sprig of coriander leaves for garnish and finish up with a swirl of coconut oil.
I got mesmerized by the beautiful green tone of this loaf when I saw an online video in FB. Then I discovered that spirulina - the cause of the green tone - is a mighty expensive health product - for a small bottle of 150gm, you would need to fork out SGD $33 ( US$24 ). Upon digging, I found out that spirulina is a blue green algae of the freshwater variety and is now one of the most talked about superfoods today. Grown around the world from Mexico to Africa to Hawaii, spirulina has an intense flavor and even more powerful nutrition profile.
Spirulina Health Benefits
Spirulina has many health benefits. It
-helps prevent cancer
-lowers blood pressure
-lowers the risk of stroke
-speeds up weight loss
and many others. It is available in tablet or powder form. Spirulina powder can be used in health shakes and baked goods or simply sprinkled over cereals.
Possible Side Effects
Having raved about its health benefits, please be warned that spirulina may cause certain side effects like nausea, liver damage, shock and can even be fatal if the contaminated version is consumed. Do ensure only the pure blue-green algae that is organic and free from contamination is used.
This bread recipe is of a basic banana recipe but with spirulina added for that lovely gorgeous green colour (I just can't stop talking about it!) and yes, for its health benefits. This Banana Bread version has no eggs, no butter and no sugar!! Can you beat that? :) It is unbelievable that this gorgeous so very healthy bread turned out so delicious...
Ingredients (yields 1 loaf)
3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 chia egg (see step 2 below)
1 and 1/2 cups Oat flour (ground oats will do too)
2 tsp organic spirulina powder
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts - 1/2 for mixing in and 1/2 for the topping
1) First preheat the oven to 350 deg F or 180 deg C. Line an 8-inch loaf pan with olive oil spread and put the baking paper and let it hang over. This will help to lift the baked loaf easily.
2) Prepare chia egg. Chia egg is a great substitute for the actual egg. It is made by first grinding 1 tbsp chia seeds into a fine powder. Then mix this with 2 tbsps of water, whisk them together and set aside for 15 mins. This combination is the replacement for 1 egg.
3) Prepare the dry ingredients. From the top clockwise - ground almond, ground oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spirulina powder. I have no idea why the spirulina powder looks so black in this picture. It is actually a very dark intense bottle green colour. Whisk it all together and set aside.
4) Next, take another mixing bowl and mash the bananas.
5) Take an electric mix and whisk all the other ingredients. Chia Egg (the brown gooey stuff), coconut oil, vanilla essence and honey.
6) Put in all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk all again until well mixed and no flour remains anywhere.
7) After a few minutes of mixing, this is what you'll get. Have you fallen in love with the colour yet??!!
8) Add and fold in half the 1 cup of walnuts.
9) Pour the green batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle is not very wet but comes out with a few crumbs attached.
10) The baked Spirulina Banana Bread in all its glory! Enjoy it on its own or with your fav cuppa.
Mozarella cheese balls are like little bites of cheese heaven. Mozarella is a southern Italian cheese traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk.Fresh mozarella is generally but may appear slightly yellow because of the animal's diet. Because of its high moisture content, mozarella is served immediately but if kept in its brine in a vacuum-sealed package, they last for a week or more.
Anyway, this simple salad is more like a caprese salad but I added balsamic vinegar in the dressing for variation.
Ingrdients (Serves 2-3)
15 yellow cherry tomatoes
15 red cherry tomatoes
16 mini mozarella balls
small handful of basil leaves
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1) Whisk all the dressing together and set aside.
2) Wash and slice the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and arrange on the serving plates.
3) Place the mozarella balls and toss in the basil leaves over.
4) Pour the dressing over and serve.
I love mushrooms - something about how it tastes earthy and so flavorful. Mushrooms impart a savory fifth sense called umami to your palate. Hearty mushrooms are a great way to enhance your meal and for vegetarians like me they are a great alternative to meat, not protein wise but taste wise.
Mushrooms don't need a lot of seasonings to enhance its flavor. A simple mix of soysauce and garlic will suffice. Try to make this simple oriental salad of marinated tofus stir fried in a medley of button, shitake and Japanese white Bunashimeji mushrooms.
Ingredients for Tofu Marinade
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 firm tofu block (200gm)
Ingredients for Mushroom Stir-Fry
2tbsp canola oil
200gm Shitake Mushrooms, washed and sliced
200gm Japanes white Bunashimeji mushrooms, washed
100gm button mushrooms (either brown or white), washed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cm ginger, sliced into matchsticks
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced into thin strips
1 red bird's eye chilli, sliced
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1) First cut the tofu block into 9 cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients separately in a small bowl and pour over the cubes. Leave it to marinate for at least 2 hours or longer.
2) Next, heat the canola oil in a saucepan and fry the minced garlic and sliced ginger.
3) When they are cooked for a few minutes, put all the mushrooms in and add 2 tbsps of soysauce. Let them cook, sweat and release all their water roughly for 5 mins. Don't discard the water.
4) Put the marinated tofus in and stir fry on high heat for 5-10 mins. Stir regularly to ensure the ingredients don't stick to the pan and burn.
5) Garnish with scallion strips, red bird's eye chilli and roasted sesame seeds.
Serve with a simple sesame rice for a wholesome satisfying meal.
I had a bag of new potatoes to unload and I also had cajun seasoning which I had bought months earlier but didn't get a chance to use it in any dish. Needless to say but I will still go ahead and mention it, I kinda hit two apples with one stone with this dish!!
Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking named for the French speaking Acadian people deported by the British from the Acadia in Canada to the Acadian region in Lousiana. It is more of a rustic cuisine where preparation is very simple ( yes very!) and locally available products are used. Shrimp and pork sausages are staple meats of the Cajun cuisine. Cajun seasoning consists of a blend of salt and a variety of spices but mostly cayenne pepper and garlic, resulting in an aromatic spicy flavorful dish. Yum...
This dish of new potatoes sauted in cajun seasoning was indeed very flavorful and would be a great hit at parties and barbeques!
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
2 -3 tbsps EVOO
20 new potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sliced scallions
2 tsps cajun seasoning
Extra sliced scallions for garnish
1 tsp chilli flakes for the topping
1) Scrub and boil the new potatoes in salted water till cooked. Slice lengthwise and keep aside.
2) Heat a medium sized pan and pour 2 - 3 tbps EVOO. Fry the scallions and garlic till light brown.
3) Add in the 2 tsp cajun seasoning and mix well for 2-3 mins.
A close up of the cajun seasoning. We can see granules of garlic, cayenne pepper, bell pepper, parsley, celery and rock salt.
4) This will be followed by the boiled new potatoes.
5) Give it a good mix and let the flavors absorb into the potatoes. Check for salt and add, if necessary.
6) Top with the cubed avocados and a dash of chilli flakes. Serve hot immediately!
I couldn't decide if this was a fruit or a vegetable salad since it has both apples and wild rocket leaves, so I'm gonna go on a limb here and just refer to it as a simple summer salad.. honestly I wasn't expecting a lot from the dressing...dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil? How could that taste great? But I must say I was blown away from the end result! The sweetness of the crunchy apples complemented the sour salty taste of the dijon, cider and olive oil dressing. A fantastic way to fill up your tummy when you are trying to watch your calories. As usual, there was some tweaking of an original recipe - I have used Parmigiano reggiano cheese as I did not have Pecorino. It wasn't available in where I usually shop. In fact, I have not seen Pecorino cheese anywhere in Singapore. Hmmmm...interesting.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
250gm wild rocket leaves
2 crunchy red apples, sliced
75gm Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar (ACV)
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1) Make the dressing first by whisking the mustard, ACV, olive oil and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
2) Place the rocket leaves and apple slices in a salad bowl.
3) Add the dressing and toss to mix.
4) Top with Parmigiano Reggiano shavings and a dash of pepper.
5) Serve immediately.
Dates are in season again as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is upon us. Fasting is mandatory in Islam for all Muslims and we must not eat or drink (not even a sip of water) from sunrise to sunset. It is certainly a very testing month of our faith for all Muslims but we somehow manage and soon the 30 days get over and we get back to our regular eating. Dates are always eaten when breaking the fast at sunset because dates are highly nutritious (dates are very rich in iron, manganese, potassium and copper). It is recommended to eat 2-3 dates when breaking fast because dates provide the body with natural sugar, helping to restore the low blood sugar after fasting all day. And it helps to kickstart the digestive process.
So, I happen to be in a supermarket the other day and was thrilled to see boxes and boxes of dates displayed all ready for the approaching fasting month. I quickly grabbed two boxes and brought them home only to have my husband requesting a loaf/bread/cake or bars using the dates. You see, its always a challenge to please my husband's taste buds when it comes to confectionaries because he is so particular about the usage of butter, sugar and eggs. So whatever recipe I come across online, I have to tweak it to replace the butter (for this recipe I used coconut oil), eggs and reduce or sometimes completely omit the sugar. And I am not always successful.
The following recipe gives a no-butter no-egg Date and Walnut Oatmeal Crumble - essentially a date and nut filling sandwiched between two layers of crispy crumb mixture.
Ingredients (Yields around 18 crumbled squares)
For the Crumb Base and Topping
1 3/4 cups rolled oats (or even fruit-free muesli)
1/2 cup brown granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup coconut oil
For the Date Filling
250 gm dates
1/4 cup brown granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated white coconut
1) Firstly, you have to pit and chop the dates into small pieces. This is the most time consuming step of this whole recipe.
2) Then, place the chopped dates, water and brown sugar into a small pot. Boil till the dates become soft and mushy. This will take roughly 5 mins on low heat. You can mash the date mix to speed up the process.
3) Then, add in the chopped walnuts, grated coconut, vanilla and coconut oil and give it a good mix.
4) Switch off and let this date mixture cool.
5) Take a medium sized mixing bowl and add all the ingredients - plain flour, rolled oats or fruit free muesli, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and coconut oil. Mix it well and divide into 2 portions.
6) Spread out half the crumb mixture into a greased 10inch by 6inch glass baking dash.
7) This will be followed by the date filling. Use your fingers, to spread it out evenly, if you need to. That's exactly what I did!
8) Top off with the remaining crumb mixture and spread it out evenly.
9) The side view.
10) Bake in a preheated oven for 30-45 mins at 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Once baked, let it cool down bwfore slicing the block into squares.
11) It wasn't easy to cut into perfect squares because of the sticky date filling but they tasted so delicious! The sweet filling complemented the not-so sweet crumb mixture very well.
The original recipe featured in Women's Weekly was made with minced turkey, instead of the usual minced beef used in taco filling. As usual, I like to make vegetarian versions of interesting recipes which I find challenges my culinary skills. The recipe called for turkey meat to replace the artery clogging beef but I made it even more healthier by using mashed firm tofu instead. And to equalise or increase the protein content, I added kidney beans. I apologise if I seem to be blowing my own horn here, but mashed tofu is an excellent substitute for minced meat of any kind. And I was kicking myself for not using this idea earlier!
And Quinoa replaces the carb loaded burritos to make this a fiber-rich low-fat protein-packed taco bowl!
Ingredients (Serves 2)
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water (can use vegetable broth for increase flavor)
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp EVOO
1) Boil the uncooked quinoa in a small pot with either the water or the vegetable broth.
2) After around 10-15 mins, it will have absorbed all the liquid and be grainy but soft. Add salt, pepper and EVOO and fluff it up with a fork. Leave it aside.
Ingredients for Taco
2 tbsps EVOO
2 large scallions, cut into small pieces
1/3 yellow capsicum, sliced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large square firm tofu, mashed
1 cup kidney beans
For the topping
2 tbsps pumpkin seeds
A stalk of coriander leaf, cut big
2 tbsps greek yogurt
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 pickled jalapeno slices
1) Get all the ingredients ready.
2) Heat a pot and add the EVOO. Fry the scallions, garlic and capsicum slices.
3) Then add in the seasonings - chilli powder, cumin powder, pepper and salt. Fry further for 2 mins.
4) Then, add in the mashed tofu and fry till moisture evaporates. You may have to add another tbsp of EVOO if it gets too dry.
5) Add in the kidney beans.
6) Stir and your vegetarian taco is ready!
7) Now, assemble the quinoa and taco into two bowls. Top it off with pumpkin seeds, coriander leaves, sliced pickled jalapeno, greek yogurt and halved cherry tomatoes.
8) It was a big hit at home especially with my older girl Ranya and my husband. Ranya is slowly following her father's footsteps in opting always for healthier meals.
Bulghur Wheat is a wholewheat grain made from durum wheat that has been cracked open and precooked partially. Bulgur is very commonly consumed in European, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.
As a wholegrain, bulgur wheat is naturally high in fibre and is a low fat, low calorie vegetarian and vegan food ingredient. It is not suitable for those on a gluten-free diet. Using bulgur wheat in a simple mediterranean salad is a great way to fill up with wholegrain and vegetables.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
1 cup cooked bulgur wheat (roughly 75 gm uncooked )
1/2 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup yellow capsicum
8 olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
6-8 baby spinach leaves
12 cubes of feta cheese
Salt & Pepper to season
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1) Prepare the bulgur as stated in the box. It is usually quite simple - empty 75gm of the uncooked bulgur into a bowl. Pour around 100ml boiling water and leave it for around 10-15 mins. Season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar and fluff it up with a fork.
2) Get all the other ingredients ready.
3) Arrange them in a systematic way and serve. Told ya it was a simple salad!
We all love hummus at home. Hummus - the creamy protein-packed paste that is made primarily from mashed chickpeas which can be used as a dip or a spread.
History of the Humble Hummus
According to ancient scriptures, it was first consumed in Egypt around the 13th century but it was very different from what we having today. Early Egyptians omitted tahini and garlic and used pickled lemons, herbs, spices and other nuts instead. It was only during the 16th century that the Mediterraneans started consuming the way we do today. It is so popular all over the world and its not surprising that restaurants have sprung up recently dedicating their menu to this humble but highly nutritious dip/spread - namely Hummus Grill in Philadelphia, Hummus Cafe in Seattle and many more.
Hummus Health Benefits
Hummus, with its protein rich chickpeas, highly wholesome EVOO, raw garlic and calcium rich sesame seeds in its tahini, is packed with many health benefits. It
Basic hummus consists of chickpeas, tahini (which is essentially ground roasrted sesame seeds), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt. I wanted to make a version with cilantro (coriander) to see how it would turn out. I used only 1/2 cup which gave a faint green shade to the hummus and a hint of cilantro flavor. I believe it will be even more delicious with a full cup.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of garbanzo beans (15 oz)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, cilantro leaves and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Please don't make the mistake of putting the ingredients into a blender, like I did. It took a long time to blend it to a smooth paste. Only use a food processor.
2) Remove from food processor, pour it into a shallow serving bowl with a coloured interior for that extra impact. Swirl EVOO, add a dash of cayenne and place the coriander leave in the center.
Serve with your fav dip chips or on your wrap as a spread. It's really delicious. You won't regret trying out this super easy recipe.
Hi guys! I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.